Former New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg was forced to issue an apology after a report uncovered that Bloomberg’s campaign was using prison labor to make campaign calls.
The Intercept reported that the Bloomberg 2020 campaign contracted a call company named ProCom, which runs call centers out of New Jersey and Oklahoma. According to this report, two of the Oklahoma call centers are operated out of state prisons.
“In at least one of the two prisons, incarcerated people were contracted to make calls on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign,” Intercept reporter John Washington wrote.
The prisoners were required to end each call by disclosing the calls were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign. However, they were not forced to disclose they were calling from prison.
On Twitter, Bloomberg admitted the Intercept’s report was accurate.
His campaign issued a statement announcing they “immediately ended our relationship with that company.”
Earlier today, a news outlet reported that prison workers were being used by a subcontractor to make telephone calls on behalf of my campaign. I’m not attacking the news: the story was fundamentally accurate.
We only learned about this when the reporter called us, but as soon as we discovered which vendor’s subcontractor had done this, we immediately ended our relationship with the company and the people who hired them.
We do not support this practice and we are making sure our vendors more properly vet their subcontractors moving forward.
Earlier today, a news outlet accurately reported that a subcontractor for one of our vendors was using prison workers to make phone calls on behalf of my campaign. After learning this, we immediately ended our relationship with that company.
Full statement below: pic.twitter.com/0KJ8y8Iqxj
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) December 24, 2019
While Bloomberg has apologized for using prison labor, the New York Times reported that it is unclear whether or not the incarcerated individuals received any payment.
Procom stated that the inmates “receive marketable job training and skills that allow them to both earn money while they’re incarcerated and position themselves for gainful employment when their prison terms end.”
According to the New York Times, Procom pays the Oklahoma Department of Corrections the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. However, it’s not clear whether the prison workers receive the entirety of Procom’s payment.